USS Kanawha II (SP-130)
Kanawha II (Steam Yacht, 1899) underway, prior to her World War I Navy service.
|Namesake:||Kanawha II was her previous name retained; Piqua is a city in Ohio named for a tribe of Shawnee Indians which formerly inhabited the region|
|Builder:||Gas Engine and Power Co. and Charles L. Seabury Co., Morris Heights, New York|
|Laid down:||date unknown|
|Acquired:||28 April 1917|
|Commissioned:||28 April 1917|
|Decommissioned:||c. 1 July 1919 at Morris Heights, New York|
|Maiden voyage:||New York City to Brest, France, 9 June-4 July 1917|
|Renamed:||USS Piqua (SP-130) in 1 March 1918|
|Fate:||returned to owner on 1 July 1919|
|Status:||ultimate fate unknown|
|Class & type:||commercial yacht|
|Draft:||9’ 8” (mean)|
|Complement:||65 officers and enlisted|
USS Kanawha II (SP-130)/USS Piqua (SP-130) -- was a yacht acquired by the U.S. Navy during World War I. She was placed into service as an escort for Allied convoys traveling across the dangerous North Atlantic Ocean. German U-boats were active in sinking Allied ships, and Kanawha II (later renamed Piqua) provided a valuable service as a lookout and in one instance attacked one and drove it off. Post-war she was returned to her pre-war owner in July 1919.
USS Kanawha II was built as the yacht Kanawha by Gas Engine and Power Co. and Charles L. Seabury Co., Morris Heights, New York, in 1898. She was acquired by the U.S. Navy from her owner, John Borden, April 28, 1917, and commissioned the same day as USS Kanawha II (SP–130) under the command of her former owner, who had been commissioned as a Lieutenant Commander.
World War I service
During her first three weeks of naval service Kanawha II performed various duties in the New York area. Upon being outfitted for distant service she got underway for Brest, France June 19, 1917. She arrived there July 4, 1917, in the vanguard of a flotilla of warships sent to aid that country following the United States' entry into World War I.
Two weeks later she began patrol off Brest. On September 3, 1917, she sighted her first enemy periscope off the French coast, but was unable to press an attack. On November 28th she sighted another closing on a convoy. She issued a submarine warning and the U-boat was later tracked and sunk by two other patrol vessels equipped with depth bombs. The convoy continued undamaged.
On March 1, 1918, she was renamed Piqua, the first Navy ship of that name, probably to avoid message confusion with the oiler Kanawha.
Attacking a German U-boat
While steaming in convoy on July 16, 1918 the Piqua sighted the conning tower of a third U-boat-on an almost parallel heading. She closed and commenced firing at 11,000 yards (10,058 meters). Unable to see their target, the gun crew aimed according to estimated ranges and bearings called down to them from the bridge. Although she scored no hits her shells forced the U-boat to abandon her prey.
Piqua continued to operate off the French coast through the end of the War in November 1918 and into 1919.
Post-war decommissioning and disposal
Piqua sailed for New York City on May 20, 1919, and after stops in the Azores and Bermuda, anchored off Tompkinsville, Staten Island, New York a month later. Later shifted to Morris Heights, New York, she was decommissioned and returned to her owner on July 1, 1919.
- This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.
- USS Piqua (SP-130), 1917-1919 - Named Kanawha II (SP-130) until March 1918
- NavSource Online: Kanawha II / Piqua (SP 130)